Just a few days ago, our little girl let go and took a few steps all by herself. She was caught off guard that it happened and wasn’t particularly proud of herself – though we were cheering her on like she’d run a marathon. I watch her now, carefully cruising along furniture, but stopping at the edge of the sofa and looking for the next thing to prop herself up to keep moving. She doesn’t have the steadiness and trust that she can walk just yet, and so she plays it safe and often carefully sits down on the floor to crawl to her destination (and then stand again when she gets there).
When I see her gingerly attempting movement across a room, I am reminded that learning to walk (or learning to walk again, if you’ve ever suffered an injury or illness) takes a lot of practice, patience, fortitude, and above all – trust. Those little steps forward are terrifying for a toddler or for someone standing again as an adult in rehabilitation. You can’t quite trust your legs to go where you tell them or your strength to hold you up. Yet, with my hands holding my little girl’s fingers, she can run across a room at lightning speed. With the help of a specialist, someone recovering from injury can take many more steps than if they were to try on their own.
Faith isn’t a solo experience for the same reasons. We do faith in community because it matters that someone else is there to help hold our hand as we learn to walk. Yes, God will hold us up, but sometimes God’s hands are the hands and feet of Christ in this world: that is, they are your fellow Christian’s hands and feet. With each other, and with the guidance of God, we can step out in faith and trust that we will make it further together on our journey of faith.
I know at times it can seem like a daunting task to be church in this ever-changing world, but fundamentally, being church just means helping each other walk, however unsteadily, on a journey toward knowing and loving God. It means that when we need to make changes and have fears about making those changes, we can hold the hand of our fellow Christians, our fellow Christ-followers, and make sure that we will stay upright and strong through all stages of our walk – the weakest to the most robust – because we know we have our Christian family to lean on.
As a church, and as Christians generally in this world, we have new challenges ahead of us, but we also have each other and the hands of God, so as we take baby steps in our changing world as Christians, I believe we will find ourselves more steady than we can imagine, stronger and more resilient than we might feel, and as creative as the Creator who made us.